Terror threat level rises in Northern Ireland ahead of Biden’s visit

Terror threat level rises in Northern Ireland ahead of Biden's visit

First modification:

Northern Ireland has raised the level of terrorist threat from “significant” to “serious”, as announced by the British Government on Tuesday, March 28. Some measures taken due to the visit of the president of the United States, Joe Biden. On February 22, a police officer was shot several times.

The level of the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland has been raised from “significant” to “serious” by the security services, the British government announced on Tuesday, March 28, shortly before an expected visit by US President Joe Biden, for the 25 years of the peace agreement.

This increase was decided by MI5 (a UK intelligence service) responds to the recent assassination attempt on a police officer in Northern Ireland.

An attack is “highly likely”

That level means an attack is considered “highly probable”, according to a written statement to Parliament by Britain’s Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris. In addition, he warned that the public must remain “vigilant” without becoming “alarmed.”

“In the last 25 years, Northern Ireland has transformed into a peaceful society (…) However, a small number of people remain determined to harm our people through acts of violence for political reasons,” the text continues.

The document refers to the attempted murder of police officer John Caldwell, who was shot multiple times on February 22 by two men at soccer training with children in the western Northern Irish town of Omagh.

This attack, unanimously condemned by the political leaders of the British province, occurred shortly before the 25th anniversary of the peace agreement, signed on April 10, 1998, after three decades of deadly conflict that left 3,500 dead.

Police suspect the New IRA, a dissident republican group, which has admitted responsibility for two attacks in recent years. In April 2021, he planted a bomb under a policewoman’s car in front of her house.

Paralyzed local political institutions

“The political future of Northern Ireland rests on the democratic will of the people and not on the violent actions of a few,” said Chris Heaton-Harris, “together we will ensure that the violence of the past does not return.”

The province is also in a delicate political moment: although London and Brussels have finally reached an agreement on the post-Brexit provisions in the province, the local political institutions remain paralyzed due to the boycott by the DUP unionists, who viscerally defend the membership of the British province to the United Kingdom.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson called MI5’s decision “bad news”, expressing in a statement his hope that the terror threat would one day be lifted. “But to achieve this, the public must support the Police and show that there is no place for terrorism in Northern Ireland in 2023,” he added.

For her part, Michelle O’Neill, the head of the republican nationalist party Sinn Fein, who will become the province’s prime minister if local institutions are restarted, said on Twitter that “there is no place for paramilitary groups.” . “They must go,” she concluded.

with AFP

This article was adapted from its original in French.

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